College Of Arts And Sciences | Ebonics: The Controversy over African-American Vernacular
E103 | 0040 | Davis


2:30-3:20 MW ED 1120
The recent decision of the Oakland (California) School Board declaring
Ebonics a separate language has put the controversy over African American
English in the national limelight.  The controversy is multi-faceted.  There
is the basic question of just what is Ebonics.  Is it a separate language, a
dialect, slang, bad grammar, broken English, or really not a distinct
entity? There is the issue of its portrayal in the popular media as well as
the controversy over its use within  African-American community. There is
also the matter of its origins and history. Are its origins traceable to the
language systems of Africa or is it a variant of Southern English? Further,
there is a practical question of how to approach the education of
African-American children whose home speech is Ebonics. Should a goal in the
education of these children be the purging of Ebonics so that it does not
interfere with the mastery of Standard English, or should Ebonics be used as
a vehicle for learning Standard English? This course will deal with these
and other issues regarding Ebonics through readings, films, small and large
group discussions, writing assignments and lectures. The course grade will
be based on homework assignments, participation in discussion, and three
exams.